Click to enlarge pictureCar Lot (© Image100/Corbis)

While there aren't many new cars available for under $10,000, there are plenty just above. Applying your best negotiating skills and searching the Web or local newspapers for the best bargain will help close the gap.

If you're looking to pick up a brand-new car, truck or SUV, there has never been a better time. Right now, manufacturers are doing anything and everything they can to roll inventory out the door, and that means serious savings in the form of rebates and cash-back incentives for potential buyers as well as attractive loan rates for those who qualify. In addition, many local dealerships are offering their own "special incentives." They have to get rid of last year's inventory before this year's models start showing up.

And the best deals aren't just on high-ticket machines. While the selection of cars for less than $10,000 used to be limited to either chocolate or vanilla, these days there's a smorgasbord of flavors from which to choose for around that figure. If you think the economical car you've been eyeing is just a little out of reach, we may have good news for you. Take a look at the machines we found for around $10,000.

2009 Hyundai Accent GS 3-Door Base

Click to enlarge pictureHyundai Accent

Respectable styling, great sport-to-dollar ratio and quick for its class, the 2009 Hyundai Accent is a blast to drive on even the most mundane roads. You can't beat the price, which starts under $10,000.

Hyundai's Accent GS 3-Door starts at a featherweight $9,970 (not including the destination charge). It's hard to top a new car for less than 10 grand, especially when it comes packed with the kind of standard features this little Hyundai has, such as air conditioning and a tire-pressure-monitoring system. The company's outstanding 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty rides shotgun, and buyers are treated to great safety features including front, side and side-curtain airbags. Under the hood there's a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine with 110 horsepower, which is ample to scoot the little hatch along. For the base price you'll have to go with a 5-speed manual transmission, but it's the better of the two available gearboxes, so it's a win-win in our book.

Read:  Used Cars Under $10,000

2009 Nissan Versa 1.6 Base

Click to enlarge picture2009 Nissan Versa (© Bruce Whitaker)

Nissan's Versa 1.6 offers respectable fuel economy (26 mpg city/34 mpg highway) and a larger size than most other vehicles in its class.

Nissan is proud of its Versa, and it should be. The company isn't offering any cash incentives at the moment, but when the base model Versa starts at $9,990, it doesn't need them. It's rare that so little coin can buy such a smart vehicle, but the Versa delivers with a robust 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine with 107 horsepower. Coupled to a 6-speed manual transmission, the engine makes the car feel light on its feet and peppy enough to garner disapproving glares from parents and law enforcement alike. Six standard airbags and a tire-pressure-monitoring system are also part of the package.

2009 Kia Rio

Click to enlarge picture2009 Kia Rio (© Kia Motors America)

The 2009 Kia Rio is pricier than the Versa or the Accent, but is still a great value for an everyday driver. It's a stylish and spacious little car that delivers sprightly performance and great fuel economy.

The Kia Rio starts off with a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $11,495. But Kia is offering up to $1,500 toward your purchase if you visit a dealer before June 1. That knocks the damage back to a manageable $9,995. Even more cash is available if you're a recent graduate or in the military. As in the Accent, there's a peppy 110 horsepower on tap thanks to a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine. However, the Rio is a 4-door sedan that's much more family friendly than Hyundai's 3-door. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard equipment, although you can still go for the automatic and fall under our price cutoff thanks to Kia's rebate. Kia's 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty adds the kind of peace of mind that's worth a mint, too.

2009 Chevrolet Aveo

Click to enlarge picture2009 Chevrolet Aveo LT (© General Motors)

While the Chevrolet Aveo doesn't come in under our $10,000 budget, it is still one of the most popular — and least expensive — subcompacts in the U.S. It has a revised 4-cylinder engine for 2009, which boosts fuel economy, as well as a refreshed interior design with OnStar (and a year's subscription) standard.

Chevrolet's entry into the small-car segment starts at $11,965, but with a $1,000 cash incentive available right now the Aveo slides just below $12,000. Available in either sedan or hatchback trims, the Aveo has a surprising amount of room inside and it also sips gas. Its fuel economy of around 34 mpg highway means you'll save some cash even after you're through making car payments. The Aveo also comes with a one-year subscription to GM's helpful OnStar system, meaning any kind of assistance is always just a push of a button away. Chevrolet has graced the Aveo with an efficient 106-horsepower Ecotec engine, and a 5-speed manual transmission is the order of the day for the base car. Granted, the Aveo is a bit north of the $10,000 price point; however, if you're looking for a vehicle to take on the commuting hordes, the Aveo has plenty to offer.

What kinds of deals have you found while searching for a new car?

2008 Ford Focus Sedan

Click to enlarge pictureFord Focus SES Sedan (© Ford Motor Company)

Redesigned for 2008 with all-new sheet metal and interior, the 2008 Ford Focus sedan features an attractive passenger cabin, solid safety ratings, comfortable seating and plenty of headroom. Although a bit above $10K, it is still a considerable value.

This year may not be a great one for dealerships, but last year wasn't much better. That means you can still find brand-new, never-registered 2008 models with plenty of cash incentives. Ford is offering up to $3,000 cash back on 2008 Focus sedans right now. With an MSRP of $14,995, that knocks your final price down to $11,995. Applying your best negotiating skills could cut that price even further. Even so, you probably won't be able to buy it for less than $10,000. But with a capable 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that boasts 140 horsepower, it's the most powerful car on the list and a bargain for under $12,000. The 5-speed manual transmission doesn't leave much to complain about, and Ford has done an excellent job of making an inexpensive interior not feel like one. Besides, the Focus is actually a sharp car thanks to last year's redesign, and not much has been changed for 2009. For the money, you can't beat it.

James Tate cut his teeth in the business as a race team crew member before moving to the editorial side as Senior Editor of Sport Compact Car, and his work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Automobile, Motor Trend and European Car. When not writing, Tate is usually fantasizing about a vintage Porsche 911.

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